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Thursday, Jul 12, 2018

James Ohlen Departs BioWare

James Ohlen tweets that he is retiring from BioWare after 22 years:
After 22 years I have retired from BioWare. I've loved my time with Anthem, Star Wars, Dragon Age and Dungeons and Dragons. But I need to take a break from the industry and work on something a little smaller and more personal.

Kalypso Goes Full Commando

Kalypso Media announces the acquisition to the full rights to the Commandos series, saying they now own all past a future releases for the mostly real-time tactics series. Here's the news with more on their plans:
The Kalypso Media Group is thrilled to announce that it has secured all rights to the highly-acclaimed fan-favourite gaming IP, Commandos. With this latest acquisition, the entire Commandos brand is completely owned by Kalypso Media, which not only covers future releases but also all distribution rights to the entire series thus far, including Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, Commandos 2: Men of Courage, Commandos 3: Destination Berlin and Commandos: Strike Force, as well as Pyro Studios’ other titles, such as Imperial Glory and Praetorians.

“We are very proud and extremely honored to be able to add such large and successful brands as Commandos, Praetorians and Imperial Glory to the Kalypso Media portfolio” commented Simon Hellwig, founder and Global Managing Director of the Kalypso Media Group, “The opportunities that arise from this acquisition will help create the best possible conditions for the further growth of the Kalypso Media Group.”

Ignacio Pérez, founder of Pyro Studios, adds: “We have been looking for a suitable partner for the continuation of our products and brands for a long time. Kalypso has great expertise and experience with rebooting well-known titles, and we are delighted to have our IP in such good hands.”

Simon Hellwig continues, “We have great respect for what the Pyro Studios team have accomplished and created throughout the history of the studio. Therefore, we see it as our responsibility to want to revive and further develop these beloved games for the fans around the world. Of course, this will include the development of a completely new games for all platforms, but also an extensive adaptation of the existing titles for contemporary technologies and platforms. We’re incredibly excited about the opportunities, and will begin speaking to potential development studios in the near future.”

Since its initial launch in 1998 the Commandos IP is one of the most popular and well-known real-time tactics series in gaming history, focusing on careful and strategic action with finely-tuned stealth gameplay. The series revolutionized the genre with its groundbreaking game mechanics, and its influence can still be felt in strategy games today.

Hacknet Free on Steam

Steam News announces the chance to get Hacknet for free, simply by adding it to your Steam library between now and July 14th at 1:00 pm EDT (thanks Steam Database via Ant). This supports Windows, macOS, and Linux, and makes use of actual Unix commands for your hax0ring. You can grep the following for more details:
Hacknet is an immersive, terminal-based hacking simulator for PC. Dive down a rabbit hoIe as you follow the instructions of a recently deceased hacker, whose death may not have been the accident the media reports. Using old school command prompts and real hacking processes, you’ll solve the mystery with minimal hand-holding and a rich world full of secrets to explore.

Bit, a hacker responsible for creating the most invasive security system on the planet, is dead. When he fails to reconnect to his system for 14 days, his failsafe kicks in, sending instructions in automated emails to a lone user. As that user, it’s up to you to unravel the mystery and ensure that Hacknet-OS doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Exploring the volatile nature of personal privacy, the prevalence of corporate greed, and the hidden powers of hackers on the internet, Hacknet delivers a true hacking simulation, while offering a support system that allows total beginners get a grasp of the real-world applications and commands found throughout the game.

Nova Nukers! Free Weekend

Steam is offering a free weekend to play Nova Nukers!, a multiplayer action game for Windows. This celebrates a new patch that updates the game to version 1.2.0, adding new content, and it is also currently on sale for half-off. This post has the details:
Hello everyone! It's finally here: The big content update you have all been waiting for! We have spent the time after the release of Nova Nukers! to listen to your feedback, ideas and bug reports. We have been working on improving and expanding the game in the last few months and we hope you enjoy the huge amount of things we added! This update contains a new planet to unlock and play on, 4 new game modes to enjoy and experiment with item settings. We also added emotes! You can now show off to your opponents after a great play or just lay around on a planet enjoying the view. Existing planets also got a makeover: Glazios, Barrid and Dolcaneta all got unique mechanics that make gameplay more interesting! There are some more new features and many more changes and bugfixes. Check out the detailed patch notes below for more information!

With the release of this update also comes a free weekend and a huge sale, so tell your friends to try out the game with you and get it at a great price!

Steam Upcoming Tab Improved

The Steam Blog announces ways Valve is attempting to make the "Upcoming" tab on Steam more relevant to the interests of each individual gamer by tailoring the list of upcoming games to some of the preferences demonstrated along the way. They also acknowledge that hiding some games to aid discovery is not going to work for everyone, so they are retaining the ability to see an unfilterered list of all future Steam releases. Here's more on what they are doing and why:
Today we are rolling out a bunch of improvements in how we show you upcoming games on Steam.

In the past, the Steam homepage included an Upcoming tab that showed customers a complete list of everything that was coming to Steam. This was a pretty simple feature -- it was literally just a chronological list of upcoming titles. It didn't do anything to build a list of games suited to anyone's interests and just wasn't doing its job. Hundreds of new games are coming to Steam every month, but customers weren't using this list to find new things to play. It was a feature that needed work.

Therefore, as of today the Upcoming tab will be a smarter, more tailored list called Popular Upcoming. This list will take into account the pre-release interest in a game -- that is to say, data we gather through wishlists, pre-purchase, and a developer's or publisher's past titles. We believe Steam does a good job of taking early customer interest (even if that interest isn't enormous) and helps a game amplify that interest through connection to quality customers. This smarter list on the front page aims to do just that.

Furthermore, when you click on "see more Upcoming Releases" at the bottom of that tab you'll be taken to a dedicated Upcoming Releases page. This page will make suggestions based on your unique interests and show you what's coming to Steam in a much more digestible format.

The Bards Tale IV in September

Kickstarter Update for The Bards Tale IV: Barrows Deep announces the launch of the backer's beta for the upcoming RPG sequel. Additionally, inXile entertainment reveals September 18th as the release date for the full game, reports VG247. The FAQ for the backer beta also includes preliminary system specs:
What are the recommended system specs to play?
OS:
Windows 7/8/8.1/10 (64-bit)
Processor: Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD 290 equivalent or greater
Storage: 50 GB

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War Released

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is now available for Windows and Linux on Steam, offering a 4X strategy game using Games Workshops science fiction setting. This is also available on GOG.com, where they've removed the DRM and added a free copy of Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War in its place. Here's the release trailer, and here's word:
Purge the Xenos! Gladius Prime is a newly rediscovered planet: once it was a prosperous Imperium Colony, but then they discovered something weird, powerful and terrible. Forsaken for centuries, it is now an endless battlefield littered with skeletons of Imperium cities and crawling multi-legged horrors. Four factions want to claim back Gladius Prime: the mighty Space Marines, the warmonger Astra Militarum, the steel legions of the Necrons and the green tide of the Orks.

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius - Relics of War is a turn based 4X strategy game: you need to eXplore the planet, eXpand your dominions, eXploit the forgotten artefacts and - above all - eXterminate your enemies, as in Warhammer 40,000 universe there is no space for diplomacy. You can simply crush any opposing force you will meet with your growing army, or you can try to undertake the quests you will be assigned. Whatever you choose, beware - Gladius Prime itself is a dangerous opponent.
Continue here to read the full story.

Outpost Zero Early Access

Early Access to Outpost Zero is underway on Steam, and this multiplayer survival FPS for Windows carries a 20% discount to celebrate the occasion. There's also a new Outpost Zero quickstart tutorial video to help new players get oriented, while this video introduces the game in a more general manner. Here's the pitch:
You and your robotic crewmates were sent to this planet for one purpose - to prepare a working habitat for the future waves of human colonists eager to escape the dying earth. Gaiya's untold natural resources are a juicy target for interstellar big business. Healthy competition among competing corporations drive the dangerous expeditions. Will you succeed in establishing a profitable foothold on this mysterious world, or will the perils of Gaiya and the ruthless corporations out to exploit her natural resources be too much for you to handle?
Continue here to read the full story.

Icons: Combat Arena Early Access

Steam now offers Early Access to Icons: Combat Arena, a free-to-play fighting platformer for Windows. Word is this is only available in North America to start:
Icons: Combat Arena is currently only available for download in North America. Please visit our forums for more information!

Designed to be the most responsive and competitive platform fighting game on Steam, Icons: Combat Arena provides a fully supported multiplayer experience, tight controls, intuitive movement, powerful special attacks, and tons of customization, including gorgeous skins, rousing taunts and emotes, holograms, custom player portraits, and more.

Featuring an ever-expanding roster of iconic combatants, each with their own colorful backstory, Icons: Combat Arena is a rich and memorable gaming experience. Our commitment to flawless online play, balanced combat, tournament support and deep competitive gameplay makes Icons the ultimate fighting game.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire DLC in August

Publisher Versus Evil and developer Obsidian Entertainment announce the Beast of Winter DLC for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will come in the dead of summer (in these parts at least) on August 2nd. This will be first of three major DLC expansions coming to the RPG sequel this year. This trailer offers an extremely brief teaser of the news, while the announcement adds some details:
Upon receiving a missive from an isle of worshipers to the god of entropy and disaster, Beast of Winter takes the Watcher and his crew to the southernmost reaches of the Deadfire Archipelago. The Watcher is thought to be the harbinger of the end of all things and worshipers of the god of cold and decay, Rymrgand, have called upon the Watcher to fulfill their destiny. Alongside the Beast of Winter DLC, Obsidian is also releasing the next major update to Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire with their 2.0 patch that will be free to everyone alongside their next free DLC, the “Deck of Many Things” Pack.

Along with a host of bug fixes and balance improvements, update 2.0 brings new challenge modes to Deadfire. These challenges will test player’s mettle in unique and interesting ways to play through the game. The “Deck of Many Things” pack is the largest free DLC to be released yet and has the mysterious merchant ship, The Deck of Many Things, arriving in the Deadfire looking to sell magical items its crew found on its journeys to the East.

The Beast of Winter expansion, update 2.0, and the Deck of Many Things Pack will all be available on August 2nd.
Continue here to read the full story.

Fortnite 5.0 Kicks Off Season 5

The new update is now live in Fortnite, bringing Epic's survival shooter to version 5.0 and kicking off the game's fifth season. The Season 5 announce trailer shows off what's new and the version 5.0 patch notes have all the details. This trailer takes a look at the new Season 5 Battle Pass which offers 100 tiers and over 100 rewards in exchange for 950 V-Bucks. Here are the changes to the Battle Royale mode which is the free-to-play tail that wags this big dog:
BATTLE ROYALE
WEAPONS + ITEMS

  • Shotguns will now indicate how many pellets hit, visible within the reticle.
  • Adjusted shotgun spread patterns to be consistent with no random variation.
  • Heavy Shotgun now fires 10 pellets rather than 5.
    • Maximum damage for the Heavy Shotgun remains unchanged.
  • After firing a shotgun, another shotgun cannot be fired for a very short time.
  • Reduced Hunting Rifle aim assist when targeting to match that of other Sniper Rifles with projectile bullets.
  • Lowered the vehicle knockback strength on Grenade, Sticky Grenade, Grenade Launcher, and Rocket Launcher.
  • Tac and Silenced SMG environmental damage now correctly matches player damage.
  • Changed the damage drop-off profile for the Suppressed SMG to be the same as other SMGs.
    • Fall off starts at 24 meters from 28 meters.
    • Damage reduced to 80% at 35 meters from 85% at 47.5 meters.
    • Damage reduced to 65% at 50+ meters from 75% at 70+ meters.

GAMEPLAY

  • All Terrain Kart (ATK)
    • The new All Terrain Kart (ATK) has room for your entire squad.
    • Get a speed boost after drifting.
    • The roof acts as a bounce pad.
    • Work together as rear passengers to leap over obstacles with the All Terrain Kart (ATK). Lean back and release at the same time for a higher jump.
      • Lean back by holding S on keyboards or holding back on the thumbstick for controllers.
  • Map Updated
    • New Biome: Desert
    • New Location: Paradise Palms
    • New Location: Lazy Links
    • A few unnamed POIs have also appeared across the island.
    • Minimap Updated
  • The center of Storm circles 7, 8, and 9 can now shift in random directions (instead of simply shrinking). As the storm closes in, it will move & shrink to the new location.
  • Starting in Season 5, progressive challenges will no longer be restricted to a single season. You can now complete progressive challenges at your own pace.
  • Progressive challenges are now completed by acquiring a fixed amount of XP and is no longer dependant on your season level.
  • Gyro/motion controls have been added to the Nintendo Switch. Adjust these options in the Settings menu.
  • Weekly challenges are now split into two sections, free and Battle Pass. The first 3 challenges will be available for free while the last 4 are only available if you own the Battle Pass. The threshold to unlock the weekly challenge reward will remain at 4.
  • Down But Not Out players now have smaller collision. Previously their collision was at the standing height which blocked DBNO players from crawling under doors and blocked building collision in some cases.
    • Players that were crouching when knocked Down But Not Out will be returned to a crouching state upon revival.
  • Emoting will now interrupt sprinting.
  • You now earn XP for reviving teammates in 50v50 and Teams of 20 LTMs up to three times per match (30XP, 10XP, 10XP).
  • Weapon reticle will now fade slightly when reloading, out of ammo, or changing weapons.
  • The player camera can now see out of the water when walking in lakes.

Continue here to read the full story.

Dark Devotion Trailer

This trailer introduces the story for Dark Devotion, though the cinematic presentation does not show the hand-drawn art style that earned this upcoming Roguelike RPG nominations for Best Graphics and Best Game at Bitsummit 2018. Word is: "Dark Devotion combines a graceful handmade art style and deep gameplay mechanics, providing players with an unrelenting challenge where you'll risk everything you've ever known and loved." You can follow development through the game's Steam page. Here's more:
You are not alone on your journey. Many sanctimonious warriors came looking to solve the mystery of the Temple and to find their salvation, guided by the chant like moths to a divine light. Every conversation with those you encounter – even the Doomed Ones locked with you – could reveal a key piece of information. The Temple itself can seem a terrible enemy, and you'll need to avoid its twisted traps and overcome obstacles between you and the truth.

Dark Devotion is a story of secrets, perseverance and dedication: every chest or item you encounter holds another secret to the story – letters, weapons and clues dropped around by your misfortunate fellows can be used to help you on your quest.
Continue here to read the full story.

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

Happy birthday to Dance With Dragons, as the book turns seven years old today. Just a reminder that the conclusion of the A Song of Ice and Fire series will surely be satisfying when our descendants get to read it one day. I wonder if Jon Snow will get a laser sword?

R.I.P.: Zsa Zsa, Reigning 'World's Ugliest Dog,' Has Died. Thanks RedEye9.

A Game of Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Cheap Golf.
Will You Press The Button?
Links: The Story Behind How Star Trek Created Klingon And Vulcan Is Great. Thanks Neutronbeam.
Who was Bruce Lee’s best Hollywood kung fu student? Thanks Max.
Science: Method of Making Oxygen from Water in Zero Gravity Raises Hope for Long-Distance Space Travel. Thanks Max.
Researchers make a splash with uranium extraction from seawater. Thanks Max.
China's destructive laser rifle has a half-mile range. Thanks Slashdot.
Media: Trinity. Visualization of nuclear detonations from 1945 to present.
Hubless Wheels + Aircraft Motor = Awesome. Trontastic!
I'm High As Balls, Wanna See My Special Talent. #speechless
Follow-up: Thai cave rescue: water pumps failed just after last boy escaped. Thanks TheFlyingPenguin.
The Funnies: xkcd: Wall Art.
Savage Chickens.
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